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Australia's Michael Cheika wary of 'best Ireland team in history' before first Test

Posted by On 2:16 PM

Australia's Michael Cheika wary of 'best Ireland team in history' before first Test

Rugby union Australia’s Michael Cheika wary of ‘best Ireland team in history’ before first Test • ‘They believe they are coming here to win 3-0,’ says head coach
• Cheika surprised Carbery picked over Sexton for Brisbane game

Michael Cheika.
Michael Cheika leads a Wallabies training session before Australia’s first Test against Ireland in Brisbane on Saturday. Photograph: Darren England/EPA

Ireland caused shockwaves in 2011 by defeating Australia at the World Cup. Since triumphing in Sydney in 1979 they had won only two of the following 20 Tests against the Wallabies a s the southern hemisphere established a gap over the north, closed briefly by England in the early 2000s.

Now Ireland are second in the world rankings and, according to the Australia head coach, Michael Cheika, favourites to win in Brisbane on Saturday in the first of three Tests in Australia. The Wallabies have wobbled since reaching the 2015 World Cup final and on their last outing conceded 50 points to Scotland.

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“This is the best team Ireland have had in their rugby history,” said Cheika, although his opposite number, Joe Schmidt, is not fielding his strongest side on Saturday with Joey Carbery starting at 10 ahead of Johnny Sexton and a new front row assembled. “They are the No 2 in the world and, while they can claim to be the underdogs as much as they like, they are going to be the favourites coming off the back of the season they have had.”

Cheika knows Ireland well, ha ving been in charge of Leinster between 2005-10. “They believe they are coming here to win 3-0, no doubt about it from what I’ve read and seen. This is Test footy: you have to win every game. It demands maximum performance. I believe we can win but we have to learn from the series defeat to England [in 2016] when we gave away a million penalties and Owen Farrell kicked them all.”

Cheika was surprised Sexton was not starting â€" “He would almost rip my head off every time I told him he was not playing” â€" but with the World Cup 15 months away Schmidt needs to assess Carbery, whose move from Leinster to Munster next season will enable him to step out of Sexton’s shadow.

“One of the challenges we have set for Joey is that he has to boss it,” Schmidt said. “He will be the pivotal link for most of what we do and having Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw outside him will free him up to act rather than think all the time.”

While Ireland have made six ch anges from the side that defeated England in March to win the Six Nations grand slam, Australia have eight survivors from Murrayfield. They have two new caps at forward, the No 8 Caleb Timu and Brandon Paenga-Amosa, the New Zealand-born hooker who a year ago was playing club rugby in Sydney and emptying bins for a living.

On their bench is the uncapped Pete Samu who, like England’s Brad Shields, was released by New Zealand only after an arm-wrestle. “There is no way we will be underestimating Ireland this time,” said the scrum-half Will Genia, a survivor from 2011. “We know all about them now.”

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Source: Google Australia | Netizen 24 Australia

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